That night was our first – Jagwar Ma’s first time ever to play in Nottingham and my first ever gig at the Rescue Rooms. It was a time-travelling roller-coaster ride filled with crackling antique rock‘n’roll guitars and raving futuristic synths.
I heard that the Rescue Rooms never disappoints as a music venue and I can now attest to that. I arrived as the support act just came on. Hailing from South Africa, John Wizards is surely one to keep your eyes on. Somewhere between the peppy Ghanaian end, the 80s disco and some instrumental hip-hop, the sound was well executed in compact, synthetic sounds. With a taster set this good, John Wizards’ own headlining tour is definitely not too far behind.
Anticipation was high when Jagwar Ma came on stage. Off they delved into the hypnotic sound of the album opener ‘What Love’. Strings of rabbling chant-rock, intense synthetic sound, and heavy-bass filled tracks followed smoothly one after another. Just when you thought you could catch a breath, they stepped it up a gear and took you to the retromodern sixties vibe of ‘Come Save Me’. ‘Four’ briefly switched the air to the modern day house party but only to go back again to the late eighties with their Madchester single ‘The Throw’.
The last two songs in encore closed the set perfectly. While ‘Did you have to’ cooled the crowd with its mellow haze, ‘That Loneliness’ felt just like it was Britpop all over again. This was until those bass synths hit and ended the night with that acid house aesthetic Jagwar Ma is known for. Although I wish more swiveling, kaleidoscopic lighting could have been added to the stage just to be on par with the performance, the rawness of the set was enough to turn the bodies shifting crowd to strobe-lit dancers by the end of the night. Just to top it all off, the band’s Ian Brown dance moves was also a strangely pleasant sight to see.
On a side note, kudos to the audience who were all bizarrely well versed in gig etiquette. I’m only used to flashy, yell-y, and sometimes unnecessarily drunk crowd. So this was like a utopian gig experience for me. It was truly refreshing to see people actually engaging in what was in front of them and not just looking at the set through their smartphone screens.
Overall, Jagwar Ma is certainly one of those bands whose live performance makes you wish it would go on forever. Give it a go at one of their UK tour gigs or at least have a run through their debut album Howlin’ and you will understand why Noel Gallagher said he couldn’t be bothered reforming Oasis.
By Jaisai Wongpichet